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Canada’s leadership in shaping ISO environmental standards

October 14, 2020

Canada’s leadership in shaping ISO environmental standards

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The ISO 14000 family of standards play a vital role in addressing climate change. Canada has made and continues to make an indelible contribution towards their development

Environmental standards are vital to protecting the planet – they provide organizations and businesses with the framework to operate in a sustainable way. The ISO 14000 family of standards sets the bar for responsible use of resources and reducing the impact of industrial production. Canada has a long history of contributing to this suite of standards, and is currently leading the work of the technical committee responsible for their development, ISO/TC 207. The Chair of ISO/TC 207, Sheila Leggett, is a respected environmental champion from Alberta.

Canada’s key contributions include the expertise and commitment of Canadians who are involved

“Canada’s key contributions include the expertise and commitment of Canadians who are involved,” she says. “It’s really astonishing what Canadian volunteers in this area are accomplishing. We are fortunate to have governments who want to be global leaders in standards. To have that supported by the volunteer commitments and expertise of individual Canadians is very motivating for me. We are fortunate to have the kind of talent we do in our country.”

Canada is the national standards body that proposed the creation of ISO/TC 207. Our country has held the Secretariat since the committee’s formation in 1993. Today, 85 countries are participating members.

ISO/TC 207 develops standards and tools in the field of environmental management, through a team of five subcommittees and various working groups. These subcommittees focus on a wide range of important areas of standards development that relate to environmental management systems, lifecycle assessment, greenhouse gas management, environmental labelling, environmental performance evaluations and environmental auditing. To date, ISO/TC 207 and its subcommittees have published 49 standards, several of which contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals such as climate action and protecting and promoting life on land.

In 1996, the technical committee published ISO 14001 Environmental management systems. This is the flagship standard of the ISO 14000 family. In 2019, more than 312,000 certifications to ISO 14001 were issued in 177 countries.

In 2016, ISO 14034 Environmental management – Environmental technology verification was published. The SCC and Environment and Climate Change Canada worked together to help develop the first international standard to validate performance claims made by manufacturers of innovative environmental technologies, such as street sweepers that improve air quality and bio-hazardous waste treatment.

As Canada’s leading accreditation body, the SCC has an accreditation program to support the key accreditation standard for greenhouse gases, ISO 14065. This standard was developed in conjunction with ISO’s Committee on Conformity Assessment and is currently under revision.

ISO/TC 207 Subcommittee 7 is responsible for advancing that standard along with other guidelines related to adaptation to climate change. For example, ISO/TC 207/SC 7 has developed the standard ISO/TS 14092 that provides guidance on adaptation planning for local governments and communities. Guidelines on vulnerability and risk assessment, ISO 14091, is a new standard to be published early next year.

Standards developed by ISO/TC 207, its subcommittees and working groups, empower organizations of any size and from any sector to prosper while fulfilling our collective duty to protect the planet. Canadians can be proud that we are leading in this global effort to build a sustainable future.

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    Did you know …

    • In 2019, more than 312,000 certifications to ISO 14001 were issued in 177 countries

      ISO 14001 Environmental management standard is 24 years old

      ISO 14034 Environmental management – Environmental technology verification played a role in helping the City of Toronto improve its air quality

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